The Stink by CC Hogan - Read Online
The Stink
0% of The Stink completed

About

Summary

Stench, Aroma, Smell, Haze and Fart might not have the sweetest nicknames in town, but these five have just finished their O Level school exams and are on a mission to take their fledgling band from a dream to reality, and get themselves a half decent gig. Songs are good, playing is getting better, Smell's voice is wicked, so what could possibly go wrong?

Aside from a bunch of tramps, smelly teens, the lead singer falling in love with the drummer, the National Front, and a double murder!

But this is 1976. It is not only a different decade, it is a different planet. A comedy at its heart, The Stink is about London, about growing up and about all the hurt and heartache, the fun, the laughter, the bad language and the tears that go with being sixteen.

Journey with these five wonderful young people as they battle racism, homophobia, family drama and violent criminals, and yet keep their humour, grow and learn and still fall over their own feet. And of course, write songs about everything.

If you were a teen back then, you will lap up the nostalgia. If you are a teen now, you will wish you had been there. Go on, pick up your guitar and jam with The Stink.

The Stink. It was what the seventies were all about!

Published: CC Hogan on
ISBN: 1370030746
List price: $2.99
Availability for The Stink
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.

Reviews

Book Preview

The Stink - CC Hogan

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

Author

What Happened?

I am not going to spend my whole life trying to say yeah, we should have done that or no it was the other way round or whatever, that was the way we did it. Basically, what happened, happened and just because most people are too stupid to believe it, or weren’t there or just couldn’t be bothered is not something I am going to go round sniping about thirty-something years later.

This story is about truth. It is about the truth that people learn from having done something and seen something. It is that weird sort of truth that you don’t have to justify with some long-winded pile of academic rubbish, but the truth you get from looking into the eyes of the idiot that did it and realising, yeah man, that is the truth. Of course, that may just be a pile of horse whatever, but that is your problem, not mine. You don’t get to be my age without having been younger first. And if when you are a miserable old git, you don’t remember or understand what being young was, either now or back when you ran the gauntlet, then you must have been the saddest kid I could imagine. You either have good reason not to remember or you are too pompous. This is for people who are either young or still laugh when they remember being thinner … er, younger.

The Seventies was not just a time, it was a planet, that just happens to share enough with the 21st Century to make a sort of sense. There were some noticeable things missing for the ordinary kid. To start with we were still called kids. There was none of this young adult stuff, or the country’s future or any pretence at being anything correct or flattering. We were kids and we stank all the way up to our twenty-first birthday; proud of it too. What happened after twenty-one gets a bit blurry, to be honest, so we will forget that for this tale.

Mobile phones were what rich people had in their Jags, and no one with the right mind would want one. Computers were huge things your dad used at work, or someone somewhere at your dad’s work used one. Clive Sinclair had a calculator out, as did Casio, but I still had a slide rule. Walkmans didn’t appear until the end of the decade, so you either carried a large cassette deck which ate batteries for breakfast, or you whistled to yourself. I think people talked more then. The idea of being connected sounded remarkably like being nailed to something; you might want to think about that when you next feel desperate about not being on Facebook. We wanted Freedom, and that meant running around with no one else knowing what you were up to, not being wired up to the entire damned world!

Of course, there is plenty that is similar now to then. Platform shoes are back in some places, I notice, as are sort of flared trousers. I bet sparkly Spandex is around somewhere and most dance music seems to have four on the floor the same as disco. Hate it now, hated it back then, by the way, so you can make a guess to which way the music is going in the story. Back then we made friends, we made gangs, we fell out, we dated and everything else exactly the same as now, just without the connected bit. But this is a different planet, a parallel universe we are talking about, remember? It is similar, but not the same. The seventies revolved at a different speed. They had different ambitions, the colours were a different hue, sort of paler, there was a different mountain to climb and the girls were seriously different; I mean, aliens man!

Some people who have decided to make a living by being a cultural historian have forgotten what it was really like. For instance, most teenagers didn’t like punk, which was why there were ten times as many discos as there were punk venues. Most people who did like punk, didn’t dress like punks. Neither did they spit at every one and want to see the end of the Monarchy. There was loads of live music that wasn’t punk. I managed to go and see a couple of different rock bands every week without thinking about it, and none of them were punk bands. Yes, there were riots, and the dustmen always seemed on strike, but the vast majority of the population only saw civil unrest on their televisions, not outside their door, and got on with their lives quite happily with the rubbish picked up as normal.

There were some things that were awful. Racism was one. This was the time when the National Front made their mark through loudhailers. I remember working a temporary job for a company in Brick Lane in London towards the end of the seventies and being asked by the people there if I wanted to go Paki-Bashing that night. I didn’t return to the job the next day. But mostly I saw racism confined to middle aged and older people who were still wedded to the nastiness you got in some working man’s clubs or crap shows on TV like the Black and White Minstrel Show or Love Thy Neighbour. Most of my generation hated that stuff. We would be the kids that got into New Wave Comedy in the eighties. We didn’t care where our friends came from as long as they were cool and not racist, of course.

But all in all, the seventies were sunny, they were crazy, and they were ours. Hendrix had happened, Vietnam had finished at last, Punk was still thinking about it and we were about to have one of the hottest summers on record. Things were about to get strange. Trust me.

Author’s Notes

To get full appreciation of this carefully crafted diatribe, please read this in a Norff Lonnon Accent. This will require you to be lazy about your TH sounds, not to bovver with consonants in the middle of words if they slow things down, and to sound constantly surprised or mildly fed up about everything; your choice. And if your name is Smith, it is spelt with two effs, not one. Oh, and answer a question with a question. Example:

Parent: Why did you trash the car?

Car Trasher: Why do I get blamed for everything?

Chapter 1 – Introducing Smell

If you don’t wake up in the morning with your finger stuffed up your nose wondering where it had spent the rest of the night, well, you ain’t Smell. To Smell, small things like where his finger had spent the night could spoil his day as easily as someone dropping a piano on his brother’s Ford Escort. Actually, strike that. Smell would pay at least a fiver to watch his brother’s precious rust bucket flattened by a major chord, and let’s face it, he hadn’t seen a fiver since the last time he had poked around in his mother’s purse. His head was still hurting from that trip.

Waking up in the morning was an effort on most days for Smell, and it seemed the more important the day, the more fun that was going to be had, the harder he found it to wake up. It was like some dreadful self-fulfilling prophecy where the greater the chance was that he was going to have something good happen to him, the less likely he was going to be awake for it. Smell feared that on the day he actually managed to successfully chat up a beautiful bird, he would never be able to wake up again.

Melvin, I need your washing and you need to be up! Smell cringed as the voice of his mum echoed through the floorboards. Her words, despite being muffled by the walls as if she had shoved a sock in her mouth, hit his ears at a volume that would give a low flying jumbo jet a run for its money. On cue, a Jumbo passed overhead at an almost apologetic volume. Melvin Arnold Lane. Smell wondered if being given an unspeakable name would count as mitigating circumstances as he thrust one slightly grey foot from under the blankets and, with a gentle pop, removed his finger from his nose. That was one habit he was going to have to get rid of before he got himself a girlfriend.

What washing? Smell tried to focus on the remaining patches of floor in his ten-foot by twelve bedroom as he swayed into a standing position.

That would be anything at carpet level that doesn’t look like the carpet, his mother explained as she burst in through his door like Jack Regan of the Sweeney. Jane Lane, who wished she had married a man with a different surname, was nearly a foot shorter and two feet wider than her skinny son. Despite this, Smell was pretty sure she could pick him up and chuck him into next century, assuming the world wasn’t going to end in 1984, of course. And in case you are thinking there is probably something left in your cupboard that you can wear; there isn’t. Unless you count the pyjamas with teddy bears on that you got for your tenth birthday; top of your birthday list as I remember.

But what am I going to wear?

I suggest you steal one of your brother’s t-shirts again, and you can wear the jeans you have been wearing for the last week. They appear to be more vertical than you are. Smell became aware that he was lying down again, though he had no idea when that had happened. I will get your dad to cut your jeans off you later with his blowtorch.

And with that, Smell’s mother jumped out of the window and abseiled down the outside the house clutching most of his wardrobe. Or, at least in his half-awake imagination she did. He suspected that she had probably used the door as normal. Smell cautiously glanced at the expanse of bright, lime-green carpet that had been uncovered and wondered if they realised why he spent so much time burying it with clothes.

It took Smell three tries to get into his jeans. His mother had been right; they were definitely stiffer than they had been last week. He never had trouble getting the first leg in, but it was trying to pick up the second high enough that caused him the problems. Eventually he managed to wedge himself between the cupboard and the wall and only gave himself the smallest smack in the face with his knee. Out on the landing there was an extended moment of hesitation where he debated between the bathroom, the bog and his brother’s bedroom. His biology eventually stepped in and decided for him, leaving his brother’s bedroom and the bathroom at two and three on his route.

Smell’s brother had been out since early morning. He had finished his A Levels and had found himself a job as a milky while he worked out what to do next. Richard Dick-head Lane was an organised sort of bloke as long as everything revolved around his precious car. He had passed his test back in January, but he had owned the car for over a year, spending everything he had on taking it from complete rust bucket to sublimely sleek and polished rust bucket, with go-faster black and chrome around the rusty red body. To be fair, it was an Escort Mexico, so was quick, or would have been if it were not so knackered. Either way, he was out on his rounds and would not be back till nearly midday, so Smell had the luxury of choosing just the right shirt.

Hurry up, Melvin! Its lunchtime and your bother will be back in a minute!

Oh, fuck!

I heard that!

Smell grabbed the nearest shirt from the neat pile near the bedroom door and legged it into the bathroom. Despite his nickname and his crispy denims, Smell was amazingly fussy about getting his teeth cleaned properly. He would spend ages poking the brush down every corner, around the gums and would even give his tongue a good scrub. Of course, this was not some goody-goody lapse, this was pure opportunism. If some girl ever consented to tonsil tennis, Smell wanted to be damn sure she came back for a rematch. He was yet to realise how important field-fresh armpits and clean jeans were to his campaign, but for your average 16-year-old into rock ‘n’ roll, teeth were a pretty good start.

Just coming up to midday and the temperature is pushing eighty degrees in the shade! It is one hot day folks… Again. In the news, there is international condemnation of the deaths of Black students in South Africa protesting against the forced teaching of Afrikaans in their schools. Hosepipe bans are still in force across southern England and the government is talking about creating a Minister for Drought if the situation worsens. Meanwhile, Thin Lizzy are banging it out with The Boys Are Back in Town. THIS is CAPITAL RADIO ONE! NINE! FOUR!

And that is my tune! Smell still had the toothbrush in his mouth and he spattered a curve of blue toothpaste-coloured spit right across the mirror. He stood back and checked it out. It looked like one of those shooting stars from a Disney Film. Cool! Not wanting to spoil great art, he left it where it was as it trickled down the mirror, and he leapt down stairs pulling on the suspiciously pink t-shirt as he went. Phil Lynott’s voice and bass banged out round the house setting the pace as his mother threw Smell’s noxious laundry into the Bendix, punctuating her well-aimed shots with each BOYS are back in town that Capital Radio blasted out through the transistor that sat on the kitchen cupboard. Smell was reasonably sure that the gas mask and elbow high contamination gloves that his mother was wearing was his imagination working overtime again, but he didn’t stop to find out. His brother would be home any minute and Smell had to get out of the house before the T-Shirt was removed from his back, probably with a rake.

However, 16-year-old stomachs have their own itinerary, and Smell’s pulled the breaks on his legs before he got to the back door. Damn, fuel needed! Rewinding the tape back to the larder, Smell reached inside and grabbed a couple of slices of Nimble bread (tasted like cotton wool flavoured with extract of soap) and a small square tin of corned beef. Okay, so not exactly preprepared, but Smell had tried the combination before and at least he hadn’t died. He snatched a banana for extra flavouring and stepped out into the Sun.

Don’t you go dumping that tin outside! Get it into a bin. His mother missed nothing, and neatly caught the flying and empty tin as it was tossed through the window. Quite how Smell has consumed an entire tin of corned beef within two steps of the back door she really didn’t want to know. Just as long as he hadn’t got any on the T-Shirt. Back in the sun and Smell, now totally immersed in the idea of putting everything in his life to music, leapt over the front gate, caught his foot on the neatly trimmed privet hedge and disappeared into the front garden next door. Lying on his back, the midday sun drying out the smear of corned beef on the T-Shirt, he slowly became aware of small, tubby, white dog, mouth full of two slices of Nimble Bread, staring at him upside down.

Well, I don’t care what the ad says, mate, you ain’t never gonna Fly like a Bird.

Woof, agreed the dog, who had a sudden joyous vision of scaring the hell out of all the pigeons that dive-bombed him in the back garden.

You are welcome to it, mate. Smell leapt to his feet, bowed majestically to Mrs Finch, the owner or the small white fur ball, who was standing in her front window frowning, and let himself out of her front gate politely. One more bow and he ran for it towards the old embankment.

Sixteen years Smell had been on this planet, and he was pretty damned sure, mostly because the papers kept telling him, that this was the hottest summer anyone decent could remember. In many ways it was cool. Having just done his O Levels, Smell had been kicked out of school three weeks before normal so he and his friends had a long summer to look forward to. Great weather would make it damned serious, as far as he was concerned. On the other hand, it was playing seven types of hell with his feet and he was fairly sure he was going to have to dump the sneakers before they rotted. Anyway, time for a new image. Glam was now boring, the zips and black leather the Ramones were touting looked worryingly nasty, not to mention way too hot, and there was no way he was going to wear Spandex! So, jeans, shirts and sandals were going to be his new mantra. He knew he risked being slated as a stinking hippy, but in this weather, he had stopped caring. And anyway, Aroma liked the folksier and gypsy look, being Irish as she was, and what Aroma said was Gospel, as far in Smell’s book. Ah, yeah. Smell had promised himself not to think about Aroma too much. That line of dementia was causing him trouble and the odd sleepless night. A drummer is a drummer is a drummer. You weren’t meant to start fancying them even if they were a beautiful and gorgeous Irish girl with big green eyes.

Smell lived on a typical street in North London. It wasn’t a wealthy place and neither was it a council estate. It was a kind of in between, nothing-much-to-say-for-itself street that you find all over the South East of England. The houses were mostly semis with a very occasional detached house of a similar design. All the front rooms had small bays and there were fake wooden beams up in the eaves of the roof. Beneath the downstairs windows was brick, but the rest of the house was white-painted pebble-dash. The window frames were wood, the gutters cast iron and these houses would probably stay sat where they were put for centuries. They were popular with a certain age of family man because they were a solid build. And they were popular with women who were still forced to do the family chores all day because the gardens were a good size and had plenty of room for hanging out the clothes. All in all, it was a safe, dependable and completely predictable street and Smell hated it. Well, hate was probably a strong word, but then Smell always started by hating things and then sort of modified his views as he went along until he got to the point where he forgot that he had hated anything in the first place. And if you were mad enough to say, But you said you hated that, then you would probably just get yourself hated, at least until Smell forgot he had hated you.

The road, Birch Tree Avenue, was a long, not too steep hill that was bordered by Cherry trees. Don’t ask. About halfway down it there was a junction with Grub Street which predated about everything else around here, hence the odd name. At the crossroads, the designers of the estate had put a good-sized roundabout to accommodate a wonderful ring of huge and ancient Elm trees. That was until five years earlier when the whole lot had died. Now it was just a grass mound with a sad, four-foot-tall oak sapling in the middle. Smell missed those huge Elm trees. They had a warm feeling about them and were like gatekeepers against the invading cherry trees. When they had been cut down, he had asked one of the council workers if they would be planting Birch trees instead. The workman looked at Smell with a puzzled face. Why?

Smell collided with the red pillar box on the roundabout, shook the encroaching dizziness out of his head and turned right into Grub Street. He had no idea why Grub Street was called Grub Street. Perhaps it was because it had lots of grubs in it at one point, or maybe it was not very clean, though that would be grubby street. Or … whatever. Smell wanted to be still living in the seventies when he got to the end of the road, so he stopped wasting time working out the name. Grub Street, being older than the other roads that made up the estate, wound down the hill rather than ran straight. It still had the same houses as the rest of the estate, but occasionally there was something different from an earlier age. These might be old farmhouses, Smell reckoned, since they were bigger and often set a bit farther back than the rest. There was one near the bottom that he really liked. It had a gothic look to it, was big and had a tall along the front. The local kids called it the Ghost House. If he hadn’t known who lived there his imagination would have probably taken charge and come up with some amazing, but unlikely description. As it was, this was the home of the Dohertys; a large fun-loving family from Dublin. The youngest of them was Alannah, otherwise known as Aroma, the drummer of The Stink, and Smell fancied her like crazy. But all of that was for later. Smell had an appointment with Haze down at the railway sheds and he better get a move on; he had said he would be there an hour ago.

Past the Ghost House, Grub Street turned to the left and headed alongside an old railway embankment. Although this was suburban London, and was generally built up, this could have almost been in the country if you squinted a bit and ignored the tatty row of lock-ups on the other side. Smell jumped over the old linked wire fence and scrambled up the embankment. The railway tracks had long since been removes, even before Beeching got his hands on the railway system, and no one round here even remembered the line, let along any trains running along it. It was mostly overgrown, but the top of the embankment was surprisingly clear. Smell supposed that is was probably because of the stone foundations for the track, or pollution from years of tar and coal or something, but he didn’t really know or care much about it. No one came up here. As far as most people knew it didn’t really go anywhere at all, so why bother with it? Smell knew different, of course, but he was damned sure he wasn’t going to let on.

Up on the embankment he could see up and down for quite a way. It was straight here, but the trees had grown up enough either side that you could not see anything below the embankment. Behind him the track ran about two hundred yards before it hit a high fence. Behind that was a big scientific institute and the line ran no farther. Smell set off in the other direction where the line ran for some considerable distance before slowly bending off to the right. He liked it up here. Although he could hear London beyond the trees and bushes, he could not see it at all. The sound was mostly a dull rumble that never really went away. Some of that came from the A1 which was just a few streets beyond the houses and was six lanes of traffic heading in and out of the City. But most of it was just London itself; the people tramping around, the buildings breathing in and out, small roads, large roads, parks, shops, offices, homes, all messed up together into one huge snoring dragon. Sometimes you would hear little pieces of detail emerging from the roar. A small dog would bark at a shadow, or a child a couple of gardens away would scream as she fell over her own feet, or maybe a police car with its two-tone wah-wah-wah-wah changing pitch as it went from one side to the other.

And further into the sound, deeper, almost hidden, was a longer, softer roar. That was the centre of London and was the backdrop to everything anyone living in this huge metropolis ever did, thought, saw or felt. Smell has visited other cities. He had cousins that lived in Manchester which was no small town, but it did not have that London undercurrent, that solidity that said that this place had grown far beyond the plans of its makers and had now taken on a life of its own. London was a beast with a symbiotic relationship that fed off of and fed the inhabitants throughout the greater city. More than seven million people lived here, and it would only get bigger, not smaller. Smell’s father had once mentioned the London Ringways Plan. This was one of those mad schemes dreamt up by the Greater London Council that had been chopped and changed all over the place. But eventually, some of it had been built with a section North of where they lived called the A1178. They were renaming it the M25 and there was talk of it eventually encircling London completely. Yeah, and pigs might fly! Many people said that if it happened, there would be nothing stopping the gap between Greater London and the ring road being stuffed with houses.

And then the dragon will be bigger, Smell prophesied out loud to no one.

Smell sauntered over the ancient railway bridge crossing Tangle Lane and round the bend in the tracks. He supposed that Tangle Lane was a small country lane at one point, pushing its way beneath the line like a mole making a tunnel. But now it was a dirty, smelly, potholed road that lead to small workshops and light industry. You could get everything from MOTs to your saucepans re-enamelled down there. Many of the businesses were owned by Asian and West Indian families and they were a tight-knit group. Smell went down there with his father every time their old Cortina started making funny noises. Frank’s was the car’s hospital. Frank was an old guy with white stubble peppering his African skin. Smell loved the bloke. There was nothing he did not know about cars and he could keep anything running forever; a good thing since the old Ford they owned had seen its best days many years ago. Haze’s uncle also had his builder’s yard down here and was fiercely protective of his immigrant neighbours. It wasn’t always easy being black in London, he had told Smell. Although they did not have a huge amount of trouble with racism in the area, there were some skinhead bovver-boy gangs who would target the small industrial estate when they could be bovvered. The West Indians didn’t like calling the police. If the coppers sent in the SPG, they could be worse than the Skins, so Haze’s uncle used to call the local station on a direct number and put on his poshest, whitest accent. I am terribly sorry, but we appear to be having a little bit of trouble. Could you send a couple of sergeants down here? And tell the Super that I will see him at the Lodge on Sunday. Worked every time.

Sending older sergeants was a clever move. They knew everyone in the area, including the parents of the skins. They could resolve things in a way that a truncheon would just make worse. But if it did get out of control, they could wave a baton so well that it would make even the SPG wince. At sixteen, Smell had already been working on the healthy antiestablishment ideology that you do at that age, but even he had to admit to a serious respect for these men.

Beyond the bridge, the railway line curved first to the right and then to the left and then widened out. This was just a single track line and seemed only to lead to the small group of engine sheds that now confronted Smell. They were only small and Smell and his friends suspected that this might have been a private line owned by a factory or something in Victorian Times. Certainly this had all been abandoned for so long that none of them had found anyone who knew what they were talking about, let alone remembered what it had been used for. Haze had commented that this was a bit beyond weird; it was bleeding mystifying. Here were four sheds, one of them long enough to take a couple of locos, complete with maintenance pit, a much larger shunting yard and no one knew about it? What was more, it was in surprisingly good condition, all told. True, most of the windows were broken, and there were even a few skeletons of the birds that had broken them, but some of the windows were almost intact and within the sheds themselves there were few weeds, though tons of dust.

As Smell walked up to the narrow platform that ran down the side of the main shed, he heard a yell coming from inside.

I have been waiting here for sodding ages, yer bastard! Haze had a way of summing up situations that was as concise as it was occasionally unprintable. His father was from Liverpool, and the faint Scouse accent that Haze had inherited made swearing sound so much more interesting that Smell had almost given up swearing out of pure respect. Not quite though. The unmistakable figure of Haze emerged from the building onto the platform and sat down on the edge, his legs hanging down like a couple of wooden posts. He had an easiness about him that sometimes scared Smell. Haze was one of those people who were born muscular. Not the sort of muscles that stood out like a bodybuilder, just thick arms and legs and, well, the rest of him really, that was muscle rather than fat. Running into him was like throwing yourself against a rubber clad concrete wall; it doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t move either. He was also tall; several inches taller than Smell. Smell reached out a hand and Haze hoisted him up and swung him onto the platform next to him.

I am not that late, your watch must be wrong. Smell picked a loose stone out of his old sneakers. The downside of this place was all the gravel and shingle. They had tried playing footy here, but got fed up of looking like they had been flayed.

You have been that late for as long as I have known you and even if I didn’t wear a dead accurate Timex watch I would just assume that you are late and would be right too. The downside of Haze was that he was also very sharp and could get to the end of a long, complicated sentence with such neatness as to leave their English teacher stuttering.

Smell grunted. Maybe. I had a washing issue.

Yeah, mine had a clear out today too; must be a conspiracy.

So what we doing down here? I thought we were trying to work out some rehearsal space for the band? Smell, Haze and a few others had started putting a band together. They had this mad dream that they would spend this long summer following their exams being really cool and rocking their world. To be fair, they could actually play, at least individually, and had even written a couple of songs. Putting that together in a way that didn’t sound like two old blind dogs fighting over a dead cat was proving a bit harder, and they had now been banned from every garage belonging to every parent they knew. Now they had broken up from school they had to find rehearsal space.

Well, down here is what we got. Haze was being obvious again and Smell growled under his breath.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we ain’t some finger-in-yer-ear folk band! We are pure rock ’n’ bloody roll, mate, complete with Strats, Rickenbacker bass, an electric piano and microphones. If we don’t have power, we are just going to sound like some idiots off Play School or Jackanory.

Indeed, young friend…

I am only a month younger than you.

Youngish friend. Anyway, my uncle has the solution. He’s got an old generator he said we can have as long as we come and drag it away. It means keeping it filled up with four star, but as long as we don’t start plugging too much into it, we should be okay.

Smell had visions of them all stinking of leaded petrol as they walked in convoy along the track carrying 1 gallon cans. And at 77p a gallon at the local Esso, they were also going to have to save up.

I know, agreed Haze, but we won’t have to fork out on rehearsal rooms.

Smell nodded appreciatively. It actually made sense, which was a bit of a first for one of their plans. How much does this gennie weigh?

No idea, said Haze as he jumped down off the platform. But we are going to need help, I reckon. Coming?

Whatever.

Chapter 2 – Hannibal and his Elephants

Long, thick black hair might be traditional if you were born in Dublin of a family from Cork, but in this weather it was a complete pain in the arse. So decided Aroma as she cruised round her bedroom trying to find some hairbands. Lou Reid’s strained vocals scraped their way out of her record player from his new album, Rock ‘n’ Roll heart. Aroma had never heard of Lou Reid before but just loved the name of the Album. She thought she had made a discovery and was miffed when her brothers told her how cool Reid was and how it was amazing how she had missed out on him for so long. Generally, she loved her brothers and sisters except when she hated them, of course. She hummed the chorus to You Wear It Well as she ran out of places to look that didn’t involve any serious looking.

Jacks, you got a hairband? Their house was a big old fortress of a place and Aroma yelled to be heard down the landing. A few moments later and Jacqueline, Aroma’s older sister stomped into the room.

Jesus, but have you ever noticed how everything in the feckin house goes just the one direction; your feckin bedroom. I swear if you ever die and we take this place apart, we will find hundreds of feckin hairbands. I mean, Jesus! Jacks’ Dublin accent could beat up a bear at thirty yards.

It’s just one bloody hairband!

Ali, all of the hairbands are just one bloody hairband; you must have the hugest collection of just one bloody hairbands ever. Here is another for your collection. I have dug out a pink one just to piss you off. Alannah or Ali Doherty, known as Aroma to her band mates, smiled in a sod you kind of way and used the hairband to shove her hair up onto her head. A few minutes earlier she had heard a shout from down the road that sounded suspiciously like Smell being shoved into someone’s front garden, probably by Haze. This was a regular occurrence, and was her cue to get out of the house before her eldest brother remembered that it was his turn to dish out the chores today.

Aroma and her two older sisters, Jacks and Clodagh, were on the top floor of the three storey house which meant they were more or less in the roof. The bedrooms had sloping walls on the outside and the windows were gabled. This was their own little fiefdom, complete with bathroom, junk room and sitting room and it ran the full length of the house. The brothers were not banned from coming up here, but no one could afford to pay them enough to try to see what happened if they did. The drawback was that it was a long way down. So, if Aroma did not want her friends caught in a conversation with one of her family that she would regret, she had better get a move on.

She grabbed her black leather bag and threw it over her shoulder. She was into black at the moment, but had ditched the leather trousers as in this heat she felt like she was in a one of those roasting bags her mother used to kill chickens for the second time. Her tired Levis did the job nicely, however, and they were suitably ripped, much to her mother’s distaste.

One flight down. Sod it! Shoes! Aroma about turned, using the end of the banister for leverage and shot back upstairs. She grabbed the nearest pair to the door and trotted back down.

Two flights down. What? Oh, keys! Aroma pirouetted on the high heels she had just slipped on and dashed back upstairs. She dumped the stilettos, grabbed a pair of white sneakers and her key chain, and tried the descent again.

Three flights down and she was on the dog leg in the hall. Bag! Aroma shot up one flight before she remembered that she already had her bag, spun on the spot and got down into the hall just in time to hear:

So, as I was saying, my little sister is this really amazing girl and you are this really low-down piece of …

Shut your face, Darragh! Aroma grabbed Smell by the arm and dragged him down the path to the gate. Darragh and Haze watched them go.

So, to finish, finished Darragh, I told the little git what I thought of him and we have never seen him again. But I doubt it is the last time Jacks drags some pathetic little twerp home.

Well, I think she likes stray dogs, to be honest man. She ended up with that idiot Mike following her around at school, if I remember right. Mind you, she got all her books carried for her. Haze smiled at the memory. Jacqueline was only a year older than them and her reputation was well known. Nice girl, but a bit clueless about men. Haze liked her.

Haze! Smell’s voice snapped from down the road.

Shall I tell Alannah that you weren’t actually talking about them?

No way, leave it; wouldn’t want to spoil the fun, Darragh said casually.

Fair enough, Haze called back as he trotted down the path. See you later if this generator doesn’t kill us!

As he caught up with his friends, Haze waved them across the road. I reckon we need all hands on deck, to be honest, and Fart has a trolley in his garage. We might need that.

Smell and Aroma followed Haze up the hill and down Hillside Grove which ran parallel to Birch Tree Avenue. The houses down here were older than those on Birch Tree Avenue, but tended to be terraces of five in a